life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Holding Water

What I wouldn’t say out loud;

At a dinner party, when the conversation turns to

matters of personal identity and the such.

That I live in a country where

self-confidence is in the very water alongside Chlorine

And possibly many pissed out Pharmacuticals

I don’t know how they import it or how they bottled it

in the first place

but everyone takes a long swig

and grows up self-important and rarely doubting

their worth

A la the internalized cheerleader

I must therefore hail

from an island of thorns

because I didn’t get inoculated against

the sumptuous barbs

my skin punctures at the slightest retort

I bled easily even after I cauterized the wound.

Necessarily, this has caused some

discomfort

people don’t get how

someone can hate themselves

be a painted sin eater

for all insult

until that gobstopper of internalized anguish

turns on them and it feels like

it’s always been about hating the self

Such a natural elegant process of self harm

looking back in the mirror

wishing she could erase

the very DNA, the very face of her.

Now I have a second sight

for bullshit and fakes

and often I’m told; Give me a chance you never know!

But O I do

and I stay away from the saturating crowd

as they live their camera-ready lives

to the fizz and hiss of the insta-bulb

wondering if I will ever

feel differently or if this

deep phlegmy cough

will inhabit my very soul and become

a new lingua of self loathing.

Sometimes I see girls who

could have been me, but grew up

in a different world where

presumably they were inoculated against

self-hate at an early age and given a healthy dose

of worth and manifest ego

they seem like an identical twin who

was raised on grass instead of hay

in the sun instead of snow

and even though they still possess

the abhorant figure of myself

with her squinting mash of ancestral sabotage

I find I like aspects of them

as they flourish weed-like

unawares

there is a shadow

watching them

wondering

if I had grown up just like them

and taken my Happy Pills along with my self deception

what would I have gained?

What would I have lost?

I might resemble them but

I suspect, I would be nothing like them

except in the cracked glass of us

broken and repaired many times

until they can stand no more

to hold

water

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art, fiction

Kids These Days (Alt.)

Where I spent much of my time as a kid was a magical place.

It was a pirate ship. It was a castle. It was a barracks and a spacecraft. But mostly, it was a rock.

I’m sitting on it now, smoking a cigarette. It feels like a rock.

Coming home is odd. Smoke in the woods is more odd.

Not my smoke, of course. I’m used to that. The smoke over there, in the distance.

I snub out my cigarette, thoroughly, and leave it on the rock. I head for the smoke. The wood becomes dense and the light, thin. I walk for longer than it takes to write about.

I smoke along the way. I always smoke when I’m nervous. I drop the butts on the ground, careful to leave none still lit.

Finally, there is a break in the tide of green. A clearing. A hut. It is crumbling and dark with rot. What looks like crusty old frosting hangs over the door. A crutch lays in the dirt beside it.

Black smoke seeps from the windows. I go up to the door, cautiously. I knock. The sound is more of a thump. The door is soft. I frown.

I knock again; my hand breaks right through what feels like gram-cracker. I peer inside. It seems warm, too warm, and smoky.

“Hello?” I ask the room.

No answer. I push the door gently. It crumbles into a heap at my feet. It reeks of sweetened rot. I step over it, into the hut.

I peer through the smoke, eyes watering. Two shapes move in the corner. I take a step back and hold up my fists like someone who knows how to fight.

“Hey. I’ve just come to make sure you’re alright. There’s a lot of smoke in here. I just,” I stop as one of the shapes stands, then the other.

I relax as they get closer. They are just children. Big fat ones. They sway like drunkards. I put down my hands.

They don’t say a word. A boy and girl. The girl is chewing on something. The boy frowns at the door behind me. They come forward. Their hair is grime and their eyes, glazed.

“Hey, hold on!”

They don’t stop. A bit of drool hangs from the girl’s plump lips.

They lunge, around me. I flail like an idiot, smoke in my eyes. When I come to my senses I see the children crouched on the floor shoveling bits of the gram-cracker door I’d walked through into their heavy mouths.

I stare at them.

“What the–?”

They are making noises as they eat. I feel sick. They consume the door in great big handfuls. I back further into the room. The putrid smell grows stronger. I look to the stove, pouring smoke. I look around for water.

A bucket in the corner, a faucet.

I douse the flames, hand over my mouth. The room slowly clears. I take a seat on the edge of a stool and watch the children slowly fall asleep on the fetid pile of gram-cracker crumbs. I shudder.

I look around the hut. Something in the corner catches my eye. I step toward it. I know what it is before I reach it. My stomach knows.

A woman, slumped against the wall, dead. Skin blackened by fire, eyes milky white, and frizzled white hair matted over the ears.

I look closer, something is wrong with the nose.

“Oh hell no,” I mutter.

I look back at the sleeping children.

Then back to the nose.

There is no mistake, someone’s been chewing on it.

I stand up. I step on the hand of the little sleeping girl as I dash from the house.

I feel something crack.

I don’t care. I’m gone.

I manage to follow my trail of burnt out cigarettes back to my rock.

The End.

**For an alternate version of this story, click the image below:

kids_these_days

 

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